Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

A photographer discusses her new book about homelessness in Johnson County, and a comics artist shares his thoughts on the trials and tribulations of the creative process.

Plus: an encore presentation our award-winning piece about a man who learns how to hear again after years of deafness.

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How do communities come together to share information and solve problems? From searching for a missing child to neighbors cleaning up after a storm, we look at how people take action — and whether changes in technology have affected how they solve problems.

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José Faus

Jun 16, 2017
Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When he first immigrated to KC from Colombia at age 9, it was a shock. Since then, he's become a mainstay in Kansas City's art community as a poet, painter, playwright and mentor. On this show, we get to know José Faus.

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FHKE / Flickr -- CC

There's been a lot of talk about the future of Kansas City International Airport. We take a step back from that debate and explore what KCI says about us as a city.

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It's an iconic summer activity, especially in KC: pulling your car into a big gravel lot and watching movies under the stars.

In a time where there are so many ways to consume media, we examine the appeal of the drive-in ... and look at the past, present and future of this particular type of movie theater.

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The 25th annual Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is coming soon, and this year, playing the lead in Hamlet is Nathan Darrow, who you may recognize from the Netflix series "House of Cards." We hear about his new role, then meet the family behind Kansas City's Juneteenth Festival, coming up June 17.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

When Tim Lona was a teenager, he pestered his dad for a car.

“He was like ‘Hey, I'm not going to buy you one. You have to build your own. There's a '64 Impala in back that I'll give you,’” Lona said.So, with help from his family, he rebuilt the car from the ground up.

Since then, Lona has restored and rebuilt hundreds of cars at his family’s shop on Southwest Boulevard. He comes from a three-generation family of mechanics, and the shop has been in its location in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood since 1912.

How a Congolese sculpture, now on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, inspired one American artist to explore a new style and tap into her own spirituality.

Plus why self-described "adventure artist" Steve Snell set sail on the Missouri River . . . in a cardboard boat.

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SFS Architecture

The doors of the old King Louie West Lanes bowling alley and ice skating rink have been closed to the public since 2009. On Saturday, the iconic building will reopen, this time as the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

A look at some of the exciting art stuff coming up in June: a local reggae band that's performing at the Crossroads Jammin' Reggae Fest, then the artist known as Boi Boy, whose show, "Select Username and Password" opens tonight.

Plus: remember writing letters? Actual handwritten ones? We'll talk with the owner of a Lawrence print shop who created a monthly letter-writing club.

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The art of lowriding in Kansas City, then local high school students share how they covered politics and the presidential election in their yearbooks.

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A KC native has made a documentary, black enuf*, which is about a quest for belonging ... and for an answer to the question of what it means to be black enough. Then, a look at how e-commerce is changing the physical layouts of our cities.

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  • Carrie Hawks, filmmaker
  • Derrick Choi, Senior Architect/Principal, Populous

Remembering the life of gallery owner Tom Deatherage, who passed away yesterday.

How does an artist see water? Two local artists explore the Missouri River; their work appears in Tributary, an exhibit at La Esquina Gallery.

Then, a newly-minted college grad returns home to KCK to give back.

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Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Do you need a license to braid hair? Missouri, like other states, believes that you do. We look at the impact of a law that crosses issues of race, gender and economy.

Plus: we've all heard of the Kansas-Missouri border war, but what about Missouri's border war with ... Iowa? It all started over honey.

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Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Meet two violinists. One started Kansas City's tango scene before moving to Argentina, and the other is a prominent jazz fiddler. Then, hear the story behind the song, "Under the Sun."

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Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

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Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

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Can the arts survive without federal funding? With the potential elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, a look at how Brownback's Kansas might be a test case for art ... and a model for the rest of the country.

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Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

Since its establishment in 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has distributed over $1.1 million to provide resources for Kansas City artists, including unrestricted grants and free exhibition and studio space. Today we examine what impact the foundation has had in strengthening and maintaining existing local talent, and in attracting it from around the country.

Leon's Thriftway might possibly be the oldest black-owned grocery store in the country. Meet Leon Stapleton, the 91-year-old who has owned it for 49 years.

Then: In Kansas City, are we a little too quick to rise to our feet after every show? Should standing ovations be saved for truly exceptional performances? Or is that snobbish?

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Luke Andrew Scowen / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentationfrom weeds to wonder, we revisit those pesky oak mites that might soon be returning, and hear from a local seed collector on the stories she's reaped. Plus, how one local artist draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

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Every great story starts with an unforgettable opening line ... that's especially true at The Moth. Now, some of the best, most courageous stories you've heard, can be found as chapters in a book, that you can go back to, again and again.

Artistic director Catherine Burns, editor of All These Wonders, joins us as The Moth celebrates its 20th anniversary. 

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www.facebook.com

When he was a senior at Blue Valley North, Alex Haughey made a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Now, he's coming back home with a new movie that's screening at the KC Film Fest. The five-day festival runs April 5 - April 9 at Cinemark on the Plaza. 

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

A local musician on the surprisingly complex history of the trumpet, then a look at the iconic stores that defined a time, a place and a way of life in Kansas City.

Then, remembering the life of local historian Joelouis Mattox.

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Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's a man with many titles: investigator; Dean of the Graduate School at the Stowers Institute; Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at KU Med; Adjunct Professor at UMKC. We hear about how his career has its roots in a high school gym class ... and what exactly he does in his lab.

Plus, a report from SXSW on the MidCoast Takeover, a showcase of KC bands.

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Courtesy of Mid-America Arts Alliance

With President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mid-America Arts Alliance will widen its advocacy efforts in hopes of preserving funding for the agencies, says Todd Stein, M-AAA's interim chief executive officer.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry, Striking the Black Snake​, local poet Monique Salazar joins us to share some of her personal journey, including her inspiring experience at Standing Rock, her heritage and memories of an abusive childhood.

Plus, Kansas City rap duo Ces Cru on their latest album "Catastrophic Event Specialists."

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